I’ve always been a big fan of insects. Not really something I discuss in social situations but somehow my love of spiders, beetles etc has been passed on to Jojo. He’s very into animals, has an extensive knowledge of birds, sea creatures and creepy crawlies but most especially, he loves scorpions. He goes on scorpion hunts. Lifts up rocks and searches for them, and is fascinated by them.
I’m happy for him to explore so long as he’s careful, after all he wants to be a Naturalist, and how can he be the next David Attenborough if he can’t investigate and hone his skills? Other adults are less supportive. “Don’t touch scorpions! They’re dangerous!”, people tell him. As if he doesn’t know. But I would imagine a large part of the fascination is the sting. Perhaps even the danger. He’s a 7 year old boy. They are not known for their caution!
Happily, we live near a fabulous place by the name of Zoo Harakim. (Literally These Insects) but basically it’s a nice little day out for curious children where they can learn about and touch all sorts of small creatures. For many adults I suppose it’s their worst nightmare but in this case all the more important to go so we don’t pass on irrational fears to kids. Far too many people scream and murder innocent bugs for no reason in my opinion so this place was a real find.
Best of all, when Jojo asked at the end if he could hold a scorpion, the guy thought for a minute and then said Yes, so long as mum allows it. I said yes with pleasure, I wanted him to learn how to deal with these creatures in a safe environment. See pictures, please note the one on his arm is a tattoo, the huge one in his hand is real. I exchanged numbers with a member of the team who wanted me to photograph him with the scorpion whichwas lucky because the next day, we found one in our kitchen.
Picture the scene, which must have looked quite funny from the outside. Around 9am the morning after Jojo and The Scorpion, two big burly blokes pull up in a big lorry and start unloading my new kitchen island, a load of shelving and a mini kitchen for our rental unit. One of them actually lifted an entire kitchen island on his back. It was amazing, I have never seen anyone schlep like that. Then one of them caught site of this;
and they basically screamed and ran away. “That thing is dangerous! Don’t let the kids near it!” they said, nervously backing away. Of course there we all were, the boys smiling with excitement and me, cool as a cucumber examining said creature and messaging my new friend at Zoo Harakim to find out if it was poisonous. I was told he could be so we should remove him. I calmly popped him in an empty mayonnaise pot, showed him to all the kids, took him outback and deposited him into the Eshchar wilderness. I thought that was the last we would see of him as he looked a bit dehydrated.
I was wrong.
The following day I sent a picture of him to my nurse-friend who was planning to stay for shabbat and asked if she still wanted to come? She said of course, but swotted up on what-to-do-if-you-get-bitten. When she arrived she informed me “you mustn’t panic, that’s the worst thing you can do, the venom will spread quicker”. Worth keeping in mind, especially when you consider that scorpion stings are in general not deadly, at least not in the north, so you might as well stay calm and stop the pain spreading more than it needs to. (Note; you do need to be a bit more wary in the Negev, the yellow ones are usually more dangerous. Most species of black ones are not I’m told).
Next morning I’m upstairs just putting baby down for his morning nap when I hear a scream from my husband, who was busy clearing up the wilderness that is our garden. We all came running, “Scorpion stung me!” he yelled. It took us a minute to realise he wasn’t kidding (he was in shock). I quickly called my new friend at Zoo Harakim, who by now thinks we are crazy scorpion magnet people and is most likely regretting swapping numbers, and he informed me that I should probably get Husband to a doctor, just in case. So off we trot to the the local clinic. Thankfully they are geared up for this sort of thing (it would be very annoying to drive 40 minutes to a hospital and have the drama of the ER) and the doctor gave him an injection for the pain and sent us off home cheerfully informing us that scorpion season is over, but hey – next week snake season begins!
One thing that makes me smile is when people ask me if I die of boredom out here. Hello? Are they not paying attention? There is enough drama to keep me busy.
Living in the outback is not for the fainthearted. BUT DON’T LET THAT PUT YOU OFF. My kids are fast becoming nature lovers. And less than half an hour after Heroic Husband returned home to sleep off his ordeal, after enquiring how he was feeling, the children were packed up with their bikes and water bottles, and ready for their next Scorpion Hunt in the forest.
And I went with them.